Under the Dome

Dome: Brunstetter says he won’t run for U.S. Senate

jfrank@newsobserver.com rchristensen@newsobserver.comSeptember 26, 2013 

State Sen. Pete Brunstetter announced Thursday he will not seek the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Kay Hagan.

The Winston-Salem Republican’s announcement comes days after Senate leader Phil Berger decided against a bid. It could mean the Republican field is set but some GOP operatives still see room for a vibrant challenge from the party’s right wing.

Brunstetter, a chief state budget writer, said he gave the race – with encouragement from Berger – serious thought.

“For me it was more of a personal decision than a political decision,” Brunstetter said in an interview. “Although it is fairly daunting to put together something as significant as a U.S. Senate run this late in the game, it’s more personal than anything else. These state-wide races, you have to be willing to give your entire self to it. People talk about the fire in the belly and total commitment. You have to look at the particular time and place. I was not at this particular time ready to make that commitment.”

Brunstetter said the fact that both he and House Speaker Thom Tillis have close ties to the business community was not a factor in his decision.

“I thought it was politically doable,” Brunstetter said.

He said he will likely endorse later in the race.

He also thinks that Hagan is vulnerable.

“North Carolinians historically are pretty quick to pull the trigger on an incumbent senator,” Brunstetter said. “My analysis is once you got to the general election, it is anybody’s ball game.”

The most prominent candidate in the race is House Speaker Thom Tillis. Rev. Mark Harris, a Charlotte pastor, is expected to formally enter next week in a statewide tour Oct. 2. Two other lesser-known candidates – Greg Brannon of Cary and Heather Grant of Wilkesboro – are also running.

The politics of what you drive

Can you tell a person’s politics by what kind of vehicle they drive?

The Wake County GOP seems to think so. In putting out instructions for poll workers for the upcoming elections, it provides some helpful hints on what voters to approach with a conservative voters guide and what voters to just offer a friendly smile.

“Keep an eye on the vehicles coming into the parking lot,” said the GOP instructions on their website. “You can probably let the driver of the Prius with the peace bumper sticker walk past with a smile from you, but be sure to stop the driver of the mini-van with the fish symbol and “families first” stickers. Ditto for NRA members and (usually) pick-up drivers. Moms and dads with kids during daytime hours may be home schoolers – good prospects. You’ll get the hang of it.

“People clutching sample ballots from the N&O or Independent get a smile and a nod as they pass by. Don't bother them – you have better things to do.”

And it adds: “Busloads of people clutching scraps of paper as they enter the voting site – we can’t do anything about them either! PLEASE CALL the emergency number and report the location. Precinct, time of day and information about the bus. Also include what is written on the bus to identify it.”

Burr behind safe drug bill

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr was involved in hammering out legislation this week designed to help ensure the safety of compounded drugs and to track all prescription drugs from the manufacturing plant to the drug store.

Burr, a Republican from Winston-Salem, is part of a House-Senate bipartisan group that developed the legislation this week. The group began meeting a year ago, after a meningitis outbreak caused by contaminated compounded drugs from the New England Compounding Center.

“Securing our nation’s drug supply chain is critical to the health and safety of the American people,” Burr said in a statement. “The American people deserve the peace of mind to know that the medicines they buy are safe and effective. This bill establishes a uniform system that improves the security and safety of drug for consumers.”

The group was led on the Senate side by Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn, Al Franken, D-Minn, Pat Roberts, R-Kan, Michael Bennett, D-Colo., and Burr.

Staff writers Rob Christensen and John Frank

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